ROGERSVILLE — There’s been more industrial growth in Hawkins County over the past eight months than the past two decades, and now the achievement that has eluded recruiters for the past decade is in sight.
But the sale of the $1.3 million Phipps Bend spec building, which has stood idle since it was constructed in 2009, is not final yet, although the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board learned Thursday it’s one of two finalists for an unnamed company.
Industrial recruitment is always done in secrecy, and prospects remain anonymous until the deal is done.
However, IDB Chairman Larry Elkins has been hinting for months that the county is very close to selling the 70,000-square-foot structure.
The prospect is known as “Project Creek.”
On Thursday, NETWORKS existing industry specialist Brian Ritz told the IDB that Project Creek is still very interested in the Phipps Bend site.
“We’re continuing to work with the prospect and the site selection firm that represents them,” Ritz told the IDB. “Things are moving along well. We’re really close to being able to hopefully have this as one of our new industries. Hopefully, that will be coming along sometime soon. We’re just trying to shore some things up and finalize some details, and I think soon after that, hopefully it will be a successful recruitment of a company.”
The IDB and Hawkins County Commission agreed to build the spec building in 2008 just before the unexpected economic crash.
Since then it has been a thorn in the side of the County Commission, which had to take over payment of the construction loan when the property didn’t sell quickly enough, and the IDB, which has been tasked with trying to sell the property during the nation’s worst economic crisis in a generation.
Elkins noted that getting Phipps Bend on the list of top two finalists took a lot of hard work.
“They’ve got the whole world to look at,” Elkins said. “They’ll say, ‘We want to be in the Southeastern United States,’ and that covers a lot of territory. There’s hundreds, if not thousands, of folks like (the IDB) sitting around a table bidding on these potential industries.
“We got down to No. 3 (finalists). Then we got down to No. 2. Now we’re fighting to be No. 1.”